surreal → unreal




Got the Vivitar’s first roll of film developed last weekend. I was excited to see how the snaps turned out, but also knew that it would be the last tie-up of the Davis experience. It stings a little to know that these views through the lens are the last ones I’ll have for a long time, until I make it back to travel on the west coast. Besides being my favourites out of the batch of photographs, the places pictured here anchored me to life in Davis, always made me breathe a little harder, a little faster, smile from pure disbelief, and say — this is it, I am finally living here.

Coming back home was surreal, as long-distance plane rides always are, as all post-exchange kids say. Having a yong tau foo & teh ping lunch mere hours after successfully wrangling my overweight luggage through San Francisco International Airport was strange and out-of-body, but felt real enough. Now that I’ve been home for a couple of months, and have Hong Kong and China taking up geographical memory, Davis is increasingly feeling unreal, like a slice out of another life. Constructing a mental map of Davis as seen from my bicycle feels like a well-rehearsed dream, or a clip from an old, loved movie. Memory is strange that way. Remembering still frames, journeys, sounds and smells is never quite perfect, and treads the blurred line between reality and imagination. The only part of me exempt from this ambiguity is muscle memory: I feel the familiarity in my gut when I look at the google map of Davis, and my fingers still reach for my gold davis apartment key even if I’m standing on the dark red carpet outside my front door. I still try to flip light switches up and down with the lengths of my fingers, instead of pressing them with the tip of my index. When I get on the stationary bike at the gym, I can tell you exactly how the width, angle, and height differ from straddling the bike frame of my little blue beauty. These are the moments that make my heart skip a beat now, that make me smile with the surety of having lived and loved in another place where the breeze felt like butterfly kisses, where the sun shone just as brightly and beautifully.

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